This note is in response to the recent appearance of Lieutenant Colonel Chris Simons in the Miami TV program, A Mano Limpia with Oscar Haza, (Channel 41) which took place on Wednesday, October 8th and followed up articles published in El Nuevo Herald on October 9 and 10.
During Mr. Simmons presentation on the above mentioned local TV program he stated that I had been a Cuban agent, now retired after the FBI convinced me to change my “ways”. He also stated that I had had multiple sessions with the FBI on this issue and had subsequently cooperated with and followed instructions from US government officials on Cuba related issues.
For the record ALL of these statements by Mr Simmons are completely false.
I have never worked for the government of Cuba or followed instructions by said government. On the issue of the FBI meetings, several years ago I had to contact the FBI point person in Miami in charge of overseeing Cuban American groups. The reason for my phone call had to do with my own protection having received threats of impending bodily harm over the phone for my work of trying to change US policy towards Cuba. I have not had a meeting with anyone from the FBI since then. Neither have I followed instructions from US government agents on my Cuba work.
I found it quite interesting when Mr. Haza asked Mr. Simmons if he knew that I was married to a high ranking officer in the US military. The high ranking officer he was alluding to who happens to have my husband’s same name is the former Head of the Southern Command, General Charles Wilhelm. My husband, Dr. Charles Wilhelm, a physician, is a decorated Vietnam flight surgeon who has not been in the military since the Vietnam War ended. Is it possible that Mr. Haza could be so misinformed?
For the past 15 years I have worked in programs that promote people to people contacts between the people of the United States and those of Cuba; humanitarian projects that assist the people of Cuba and as a community activist both in Miami and Washington advocating against the travel restrictions that separate Cuban families and travel restrictions that limit the rights of ALL Americans to travel.
You must ask why I do the work I do when it obviously causes such personal and professional heartache, when it is a constant battle against personal defamation, when it is a daily struggle to defend one of the greatest gifts of our US constitution, our freedom of speech in a city we call home, Miami? When I returned to Cuba in 1994 after a 33 year absence it became obvious to me that the deep and painful schism in the Cuban family caused by both governments’ counterproductive policies had resulted in a family feud of enormous proportions. Because I saw then as I continue to see today the horrendous results of this pain in the Cuban family. Because I believe deeply that this family feud can only come to an end thru engagement, whether thru unrestricted travel, joint educational exchanges, serious people to people work and respectful dialogue. This family feud has kept both countries’ policies hostage and this must change. My work will not cease until US policy changes and Cubans find a way thru the painful but necessary process of national reconciliation.
The politics of personal assassination to silence voices of dissent in the South Florida community are a well known and well established reality. Is this another example of attempts to silence moderate voices in our community by using the new label “agent” (which in our community immediately translates to spies) instead of the past labels of Dialogueros and Communists. These tactics must cease in our community especially when one of the vehicles used to conduct such character assassination is through the use of a federally regulated entity. Perhaps the time has come to take legal action to accomplish this goal.